It is instructive to turn the implementation lens on staff development itself.t It has been well known for at least fifteen years that staff development and successful innovation or improvement are intimately related. However, even in the narrow sense of successful implementation of a single innovation, people have underestimated what it takes to accomplish this close interrelationship more fundamentally. I argue later in this chapter that we must go beyond the narrow conception of staff development to consider how it relates to institutional development of schools.
Staff development is conceived broadly to include any activity or process intended to improve skills, attitudes, understandings, or performance in present or future roles (Little 1989; Sparks and Loucks-Horsley 1990). Despite the fact that we know a great deal about what effective staff development looks like, it is still not well practised. There are at least two major and often mutually reinforcing reasons for this. One is technical - it takes a great deal of wisdom, skill and persistence to design and carry out successful staff development activities. The other is political. Staff development is a big business, as much related to power, bureaucratic positioning and territoriality as it is to helping teachers and students (see Little 1989; Pans 1989; Pink 1989).
The problem of harnessing staff development is compounded by its increasingly sprawling prominence. It is correctly seen as the central strategy for improvement, but it is frequently separated artificially from the institutional and personal contexts in which it operates.
The purpose of this chapter is to use the implementation perspective in order to provide clarity concerning the different ways in which staff development and innovation are related. Putting staff development in an innovation perspective should help us in sorting out where and how to put our energies into
* Adapted from Fullan (1990)
† The terms 'staff development', 'professional development', 'in-service' and 'ongoing assistance'
are used interchangeably in this chapter.